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Senator Chris Dodd announces he will not seek reelection in 2010

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010; 12:20 PM

SPEAKER: SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.

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[*] DODD: Well, happy new year and good morning to everyone.

Every six years over the past three decades, I've invited you to join me at our home to share in my decision to seek election and reelection to the United States Senate. On each of these occasions, I have begun my remarks by observing that every important journey in life begins and ends at home. Today is no exception.

What is different about today, however, is not to announce the beginning of yet another campaign for the United States Senate, but rather to announce that, after 35 years of representing the people of Connecticut in the United States Congress, I will not be a candidate for reelection this November.

I want to begin these very brief remarks by expressing my deepest gratitude to the wonderful people of Connecticut for the remarkable privilege of being elected eight times over the past four decades to our national assembly. You've honored me beyond words with your confidence.

Let me quickly add that there have been times when my positions and actions have caused some of you to question that confidence. I regret that. But it's equally important that you know that I have never wavered in my determination to the best job -- to do the best job for our state and our nation.

I love my job as your senator. I always have. Still do. However, this past year has raised some challenges that insisted I take stock of my life.

Over the past 12 months, I've managed four major pieces of legislation through the United States Congress, served as chair and acting chair of two major Senate committees, placing me at the center of the two most important issues of our time: health care and reform of financial services.

I lost a beloved sister in July, and in August Ted Kennedy. I battled cancer over the summer. And in the midst of all of this found myself in the toughest political shape of my career.

Now, let me be clear. I'm very aware of my present political standing here at home in Connecticut, but it is equally clear that any certain prediction about an election victory or defeat nearly a year from now would be absurd.

Strange as it may sound, I'm not confident that I would be standing here today making this announcement if these situations had not occurred.

DODD: None of these events nor circumstances, either individually or collectively, is the cause of my decision not to seek reelection.

Yet together these challenges have given me pause to take stock and to ask questions that too few of us in elected public life ever do: Why am I running?

On a cold morning two weeks ago tomorrow, I asked myself that very question. On the early, frigid dawn of December 24th, Christmas Eve, with snow piled high along the streets of our nation's capital, I cast one of the most important, if not the most important, votes of my years in the United States Senate: a bill to fundamentally reform the health care of our nation.

An hour later, I was standing on the Virginia hillside at Arlington Cemetery where Ted Kennedy rests along with his brothers in eternity, as he is in history, wishing that I could have seen the look in Teddy's eyes as the United States Senate took that historic step an hour before.

I thought about the dozens of fine public servants, Democrats and Republicans, who have joined me in serving Connecticut over the course of my career at the local, state and national level.

I thought about the countless Connecticut families, ordinary people, with extraordinary courage and spirit, whose lives have touched me over the years and whose stories have profoundly affected my decisions in the United States Senate.

I thought about the dozens of patriotic senators with whom I have had the privilege of serving in an institution I dearly love.

I have been a Connecticut senator for 30 years. I'm very proud of the job I've done and the results delivered. But none of us is irreplaceable. None of us are indispensable.

DODD: And those who think otherwise are dangerous.

The work to make our nation a more perfect union began long before I was elected to the Senate, and it will go on long after I am gone.

Our country is a work in progress and I am confident it always will be. That's why I thought about -- that's what I thought about as I stood on that hillside in Arlington on Christmas Eve morning. That's what I've talked about with Jackie over this holiday season. And that is how I came to the conclusion that in the long sweep of American history there are moments for each elected public official to step aside and let someone else step up. This is my moment to step aside.

There'll be time to reflect in more detail on the years I've spent in public service. There'll be time to celebrate victories and mourn setbacks, share laughs and memories, and to thank profusely the talented, tireless and numerous staffers, many of whom are here today, who have made my Senate work possible. But that time is not now. My service isn't over. I still have one year left on my contract with the people of Connecticut.

(LAUGHTER)

One year from this week, our state will have a new United States senator. In the meantime, we have important work to do. So, a few closing thoughts.

I believe in bipartisan solutions, but I also believe you can only achieve those results with vibrant, robust and civil partisan debate.

I'm a Democrat, and very, very proud of my party's contributions to the vitality and strength of America. I would never have had the opportunity to serve in the Congress had I not had the support and backing of my political party in Connecticut over these years. I appreciate the passionate party activists who have never, ever faltered in their support of my efforts.

I want to say thank you to my family for their tolerance of yet another generation of our family in the political arena.

And I'm especially indebted to Jackie, for her fierce loyalty, unyielding commitment to fairness, and her unlimited capacity of empathy for the needs of others.

DODD: She has truly been my anchor to windward in these stormy political waters.

Now, there's nothing more pathetic, in my view, than a politician who announces they're only leaving public life to spend more time with their family.

The result of this announcement today, I hope, will create that opportunity, but it's not the reason for my decision.

I'm a very late arrival in fatherhood, as many of you know. And I'm told repeatedly by some of you here today that these young children of mine -- Grace, who's 8, Christina, who's 4 -- will grow up very fast. So while these young ladies are not the reason for my decision, they'll be an incredible benefit of the choice I make today.

On this, the 6th of January, the Epiphany, 2010, I'm still driven by the same passions that motivated me to try my hand at politics so many, many years ago. And just as I've encouraged the people of Connecticut, I'm looking to the future with a spirit of optimism and confidence.

And finally once again to those of you gathered here today and to the people across this great state of ours, I thank you immensely for the opportunity you've given me to serve.

And I thank you all very, very much.

(APPLAUSE)

END


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